Town and Country Supermarkets in Texas County are participating in a campaign to fight hunger.

A local grocery store is among 78 in southwest Missouri teaming up with Ozarks Food Harvest to help ‘Check Out Hunger’ in the 15th annual fundraiser.

Shoppers have the opportunity to add a $1, $3 or $5 tax-free donation to their grocery bill while checking out at Town & Country Supermarket in Houston, Licking and Cabool through Dec. 31. When a shopper chooses to add a donation of choice to his or her grocery bill, the cashier simply scans the donation barcode and the donor signs an “apple” for display. The tax-free gift is added to the bill and appears on the receipt.

“Check Out Hunger is more important than ever this year, as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants saw their benefits cut the first of November, which puts a greater strain on the 200 U.S. food banks, like Ozarks Food Harvest,” said OFH Development Director Denise Gibson. “While the reductions may not seem like much, a family of four that qualifies for the maximum monthly benefit will lose $36 a month — which provides much more than you might think.”

The Food Bank serves 170,000 individuals annually through 200 partner pantries and emergency food assistance sites it serves, in addition to OFH’s own direct-service programs. The 170,000 individuals represent 15 percent of Ozarks Food Harvest’s 28-county service area who are considered “food insecure.” Nearly a quarter of those individuals are not qualified to receive federal assistance, putting an even greater burden on food banks and the pantries they serve.                                                                                           

The 2012 fundraiser was record-breaking, collecting $35,000 — the equivalent of 175,000 meals. Since 1998, the holiday campaign has collected $235,000 in donations — the equivalent of nearly 1.2 million meals.

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